HealthDay News — Smokers and patients exposed to secondhand smoke may require more anesthesia and opioids during surgery than nonsmokers, according to a new study scheduled to be presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the European Society of Anesthesiology, held from May 30 to June 2 in Berlin.

The researchers looked at 90 women who underwent total abdominal hysterectomy. Smoking status was measured by levels of cotinine in the blood.

Compared with patients who didn’t smoke, those who smoked needed 33% more anesthesia throughout the operation. Patients exposed to secondhand smoke required 20% more anesthesia than nonsmokers, according to the researchers. 

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For opioids, smokers needed 23% more medication than nonsmokers to achieve the same results. Patients exposed to secondhand smoke required 18% more pain medication than nonsmokers.

Nicotine may affect patients’ metabolism of anesthetic drugs in the liver, or may desensitize some of the nerve cells that sense pain, according to the study team led by Erdogan Ozturk, MD, of the department of anesthesiology and intensive care at Bezmialem Vakif University in Istanbul.

Learn more about smoke exposure and anesthesia.